The Pirates hosted Allan Hancock College Saturday evening at the Athletic Event Center. Both teams went back and forth for most of the contest until the Pirates pulled ahead late and held on for the 73-68 victory. Freshman guard Steven Bush led the way with 21 points, including six 3-pointers.
Both teams came out swinging offensively, shooting close to 50 percent from the field in the game's opening twenty minutes. The Pirates jumped out to an early 17-11 lead behind hot perimeter shooting from Bush, who was 4-5 from behind the arc in the first half. The Pirates grew their half lead to as many as seven points with under ten minutes to play. Freshman forward Chris Thompson added inside and outside offensive play, going 5-6 from the field early in the game. Hancock, however, would not go away, putting together a 10-3 run and taking a 33-32 lead with under three minutes to play. Both teams went back and forth down the stretch leading to a 38-38 game at the break. VC dominated the glass, outrebounding AHC 17-8. The Pirates also shot the ball very well in the game's opening stanza, shooting 16-26 from the field.
The second half was even more of a dogfight. Hancock came out of the break and took an early lead, 51-47, thanks to hot shooting from their guards. VC did not give in as the Pirates continued to fight, down by as many as eight points midway through the period. Big shots from Bush and strong post play from sophomore forward Vondel Faniel, who tallied nine of his 14 points in the second half, allowed the Pirates to tie the game at 66 with under five minutes left in the contest. Tough defensive stands and unselfish offensive play down the stretch helped the Pirates take control, and a late Toure Atwater run out dunk sealed the game. Hancock managed only two points in the game's final minutes while the Pirates locked in defensively.
Bush finished with a game high 21 points and Faniel notched another double-double, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Thompson finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Pirate guards added efficient offensive production as freshman Jamal Lewis added eight points and Atwater netted seven. Jalon Wilson distributed the ball very well, dishing out seven assists.
The Pirates dominated the glass, finishing with 36 rebounds to Hancock's 25. VC also continued their hot shooting throughout the game finishing at a 58 percent clip (30-51).
The Pirates will be home again to host LA Pierce on Wednesday Feb. 11. Tip-off is set for 5:00 pm with the VC women to follow.